Abscisic acid hastened senescence of carnation flowers and this was preceded by stimulation of accelerated ethylene production. Carbon dioxide delayed the onset of autocatalytic ethylene production in flowers regardless of treatment with abscisic acid. Flowers exhibited a low and transient climacteric of ethylene production without wilting while in 4% carbon dioxide and underwent accelerated ethylene production culminating in wilting when removed from carbon dioxide. Hypobaric ventilation, which lowers ethylene to hyponormal levels within tissues, extended flower longevity and largely negated enhancement of senescence by abscisic acid. Supplementing hypobarically ventilated flowers with ethylene hastened senescence irrespective of abscisic acid treatment. Collectively, the data indicate that abscisic acid hastens senescence of carnations largely as a result of advancing the onset of autocatalytic ethylene production.